CENS & High Commission of Canada Webinar Series on Gender, Security and Digital Space: Exploring Risks, Opportunities, and Security Implications
Panel 1: Securing Digital Space with Attention to Gender
Panel 1: Securing Digital Space with Attention to Gender
Dr. Katharine Millar is an Assistant Professor of International Relations in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics. Her research examines the relationship between gender, sexuality, politics, and violence. Her current research examines gender and cybersecurity; gender, race, militarism, and contemporary populism(s); and the transnational components of death associated with COVID-19. Dr. Millar has also published on female combatants, gendered representations of violent death, and military and civilian masculinity. Dr. Millar is also a member of the Centre for Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics. She has participated in consultation processes regarding the UN’s Women, Peace, and Security Agenda for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US Marshall Center, the NATO Defense College, and the NATO Defence Education Enhancement Project (DEEP). Previously, Dr. Millar was at the University of Oxford, where she held a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral fellowship at Somerville College, and lectured in Politics at St. Anne’s College. She also holds a Masters degree from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva) and did her undergraduate work at the University of Alberta.
Katharine Millar will discuss the findings of her recent report, “Gender Approaches to Cybersecurity”, for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (co-authored) with Drs James Shires and Tatiana Tropina. The report, aimed at cybersecurity policymakers and practitioners, offers a three-pillared approach for identifying, assessing, and responding to gendered processes and outcomes in the more technical aspects of cybersecurity. Katharine will present each pillar – Design, Defence, and Response – which align with the typical cybersecurity workflow process. For each, she will outline the broad gender dynamics (and implications for equality and equity) of each pillar, illustrated with brief concrete examples. Overall, the presentation argues that presumptions of gender neutrality within cybersecurity are more typically gender blind – and themselves a substantial cybsersecurity risk.
Fitriani B. Timur is a cyber security project lead and researcher at International Relations Departement of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Indonesia. Broadly, her research focus includes women in peace and security, peacekeeping, peace and mediation, as well as cyber security. She obtained her PhD in Security and Defence Studies from Cranfield University, United Kingdom. She is a lecturer of International Relations Department at the University of Indonesia, reading transnational community and gender in global affairs. She co-edited a book titled “Towards a Resilient Regional Cyber Security: Perspectives and Challenges in Southeast Asia” (2019). Fitriani is also a member of United Nations Office for Disarmarment Affairs (UNODA) roster of experts on cyber diplomacy and CSIS representative for CyberMediation Network.
The pandemic impacting the people of this region to work and socially interact via the cyber world as means to protect oneself and loved ones. Therefore, there is an increase importance of advocating for an open, free and secure internet, where people can exchange views openly and safely. The cyberspace has become crucial for the economy and for social activities, as well as functioning the dynamics of democracy or there its deficit. Since last year, the global pandemic has sped up the ongoing process of societal digitalization, where access to the internet underpin the delivery of all aspects of life, of course depending on level of development and infrastructure, that may include health care delivery, financial transactions, communications for emergency assistance. While these are positive developments, unfortunately experiences have shown that different individual may have different access to the internet. In ASEAN, despite it has held the 36th ASEAN Summit on Women’s Empowerment in the Digital Age, the region is still has a lot to work on in terms of digital gender disparities that may hamper COVID-19 economic recovery. Additionally, women and other marginalized groups are experiencing gender-based discrimination and forms of harassment online. The presentation will give a brief overview of ASEAN gender digital disparities, gender-based assaults and proposal of actions that the region can undertake to empower women and other marginalized group in the cyberspace.
Dr. Sarah Shoker is a postdoctoral fellow in political science at the University of Waterloo where she researches the impact of emerging technologies on international security. She is a SSHRC 2020-2022 postdoctoral fellow and was the beneficiary for the 2019-2020 University of Waterloo Trailblazer Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Shoker is a member of the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence as a member of the Public Awareness Working Group. She was also recently commissioned by Global Affairs Canada to conduct research on gender mainstreaming Canada’s cybersecurity strategy; the working paper was published on the United Nations portal for the Open-ended Working Group on Digital ICTs in the context of International Security. Her book, Military-Age Males in U.S Counterinsurgency and Drone Warfare was recently published with Palgrave MacMillan. You can find her on Twitter @SarahShoker.
Internet shutdowns are politically-orchestrated critical infrastructure failures that come with a long list of negative effects on local communities. Women are more likely to be targeted with sexual violence and other forms of politicial disenfranchisement. Activists lose the ability to broadcast human rights violations to a transnational audience. Moreover, Internet shutdowns cost the global economy over $8 billion dollars in 2019 (Taylor 2020).
Digital ICTs come with a list of promises designed to correct gender inequality. ICTs facilitate political mobilization, freedom of expression, remittances between diaspora communities, increase productivity and earnings between men and women, and release women’s time from care and housework so that they can participate in markets (World Bank 2012, 26). For these reasons, ICT infrastructure development has been central to the women’s equality agenda even as governments try to reconcile the tension between ICTs as tools that both enable political expression and perpetuate gendered harassment and violence. However, Internet shutdowns create the conditions for the backsliding of women’s equality.
Several UN member-states have highlighted critical infrastructure protection as central to their national cybersecurity strategies. Critical infrastructure is often spoken of in terms of technical and computational vulnerabilities, which is a remnant from traditional security policy that conceptualized insecurity as a threat to state sovereignty. Yet if critical infrastructure protection is necessary for social well-being, then it follows that ICT failures will also have negative social consequences. This paper provides an overview on the gendered consequences of Internet shutdowns and the relationship between gender, digital ICTs, and international security.